Chrysler Imperial

In 1926, American luxury car market was growing stronger and many of the producers were thinking of competing with Cadillac and Lincoln brands. The Chrysler Imperial was a bold decision from Walter P. Chrysler who introduced the model in 1926, as the company's top of the range model.

The new personal luxury Chrysler Imperial offered 5 different body styles to the demanding public, a four-passenger roadster, four-seat coupe, five-passenger sedan, and a seven-passenger limousine. The model had a longer and heavier frame with a bigger engine, as well as three different wheelbase options.

Among the other details Imperial was specific because new engine was developed by J.B. Macauley with improvements including pistons made from Lynite aluminum alloy.

The engine was a bit larger than Chrysler standard engine of the time. Springs were semi-elliptic in front, contributing to the general stats - a 288.6 cu in six-cylinder with seven bearing blocks and pressure lubrication of 92 brake hp.

Overall the Imperial models had impressive top-end pulling power in comparison to the competition. Consumers mostly enjoyed over the road performance, clearly shown when Chrysler Imperial set a transcontinental speed record the same year it was introduced. L. B. Miller and J. E. Weiler drove a five passenger sedan for 6,721 miles in only one week.

Similar record was achieved by Floyd Clymer when he drove a stock Imperial from Denver to Kansas City in June 1926 in 13 hours and 56 minutes. It is important to keep in mind that these accomplishments were performed generally on unpaved, heavily rutted roads rather than smooth track surfaces.

Chrysler Imperial was also chosen as the first-ever pace car for the 1926 Indianapolis 500. The model in question followed common practice of early automotive designations, being named E-80 for its top speed of 80 mph. Improved acceleration allowed breaking of the 20 seconds barrier in order to achieve 60 mph (97 km/h). Later in 1930, Chrysler added four-speed transmission to the model.

Advertised as the car of tomorrow, the 1934 to 1936 Chrysler Imperial brought to the market 'Airflow' design. It is known as the first car designed in a wind tunnel, an important innovation of the era. First tests showed that the standard models of the 1920s were not as efficiently designed, since most achieved best results pointed backwards with the curved rear deck facing forward.

In essence, Chrysler changed of the fundamental design practice for the entire industry. The Airflow design had both engine and passenger compartment moved forward providing better balance, ride and roadability. The model had a form of unibody construction used, which made it strong and dependable. This unique unconventional engineering success, however, failed to impress the general public and the sales were far from expected.

Chrysler Imperial models affected the American automotive industry for years to come. The commercial failure of the Airflow concept influenced the company policies in a manner of making them overly conservative for the next 20 years. Sportiness combined with luxury, exceptionally modern and advanced cars were the main attributes that helped Chrysler Imperials to successfully compete in the luxury car market.

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